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Featured 'Was' and 'Beginning' in John 1:1

Discussion in 'General Religious Debates' started by tigger2, Aug 23, 2019.

  1. tigger2

    tigger2 Member

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    "Was" and "Beginning" in John 1:1


    "in beginning was the word, and the word was with the god, and god was the word." From UBS text.

    In an on-line discussion I discussed "was" and "beginning" as used in John 1:1 with a young trinitarian scholar (YTS). She claimed that the author of 'The Johannine Prologue' speaks of the ETERNAL Word, but the only relevant evidence she showed for this that I found was in her interpretation of the words "in the beginning" and "was."

    "Beginning" (arkhe or arche, ἀρχῇ) means a certain point in time, and despite all the terminology, verbose speculation, and wishful thinking, it still remains a set point in time. It does not indicate eternal (for which the scripture writers had adequate terms when they wished to use them). "In the beginning" can refer to numerous things, but it never means that thing existed before.


    "In the beginning, John was afraid to jump out the airplane door." This has nothing to do with eternity. It is a single point in time when John first attempted to jump from an airplane.

    "In the beginning" at John 1:1 may refer to the point in time, before the angels were created. Or more likely, it refers to the point in time when the universe (or the earth) was created. In any case, the Word could have existed for some time prior to that time, but would not necessarily have existed eternally!

    Yes, if John had wished to mean 'eternal' he would have said "from eternity the Word was" or its equivalent.

    The young trinitarian student (YTS) showed the connection between Proverbs 8 and Wisdom/Word. Proverbs 8:22 is quoted by her as:


    "Proverbs 8:22-23 says of Wisdom, 'The Lord created me at the beginning . . . from of old I was poured forth, at first, before the earth was created.' Thus, while, unlike the Word, Wisdom was created, it existed at the beginning before the creation of the world."


    But Wisdom here (according to even many trinitarian scholars and most - if not all - early Christian writers of the first 3 centuries) is supposed to be an important element for John's understanding of the Word! So to deny the creation of the Word and accept the creation of the Wisdom of God at the 'beginning' is not reasonable.

    Jesus was called the Wisdom of God (1 Cor. 1:24), which we see being created at the beginning in Prov. 8.

    Jesus is called the "beginning of God's creation" (Rev. 3:14).

    Jesus is called "the Firstborn of Creation" (Col. 1:15). "Firstborn" means that there are others "born" or created after him. The firstborn of (not 'over') creation means he was the first to be created by God (the beginning) and then through him came the rest of creation. He is also called the only-begotten son since he was the only creation by God himself personally. This only-begotten one then made (at God's direction) the angels of which he was the firstborn and then the rest of creation.

    So, at some point in all eternity, there was a beginning of something (probably the creation of our universe) and at that point the Word already existed. He could have come into existence at that point, but since he made all other created things, he probably was begotten/created some time before so that he could be the master workman through whom God created the universe.
     
    #1 tigger2, Aug 23, 2019
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2019
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  2. tigger2

    tigger2 Member

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    "WAS"

    ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος, καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν θεόν, καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος

    As for the word "was" (considered by scholars to be in the imperfect tense), it can be seen simply by examining the many other uses of "was" (ἦν, ēn) in the writings of John that it doesn't necessarily have anything to do with eternity.


    YTS was presented with evidence from the NT texts where frequently the imperfect stresses a starting point, a beginning including these two:

    John 9:8 - “they that saw him aforetime, that he was [ἦν, ēn] a beggar” - ASV.

    These people knew that the blind man had continued to be a beggar for a long time. .... And yet we certainly shouldn’t try to put an “eternal” (or even a future 'continuing') meaning on it. The blind man certainly was not a beggar for all eternity. He was not a beggar before he was born on earth. He probably was not a beggar as a newborn infant. He probably became a beggar as a young man or youth. So [ἦν] (“was”) here still indicates something that had a beginning and then continued [up until the time the Jews said or thought it and probably did not continue after that].




    John 9:16 - “there was [ἦν] a division among them” - ASV.


    The division was over whether the one who had just cured the blind man was from God or not. Since the blind man had JUST been healed, it is obvious that this particular “division” actually BEGAN ("was") at this time. It obviously means, “At this time there began to be [or ‘came to be’] a division among them.”

    - See Dana and Mantey, pp. 190-191 (“Inceptive Imperfect”); Moule, p. 9 (Inceptive Imperfect is "frequent in the N.T.").

    In the introduction of the NASB it says: “Greek Tenses: 1. A careful distinction has been made in the treatment of the Greek aorist tense (usually translated as the English past. “He did”) and the Greek imperfect tense (rendered either as English past progressive, “He was doing”; or if inceptive, as “He began to do” or “He started to do”); …. “Began” is italicized [in the NASB] if it renders an imperfect tense, in order to distinguish it from the Greek verb for “begin.” - The Lockman Foundation, 1971.

    We also can find this readily-found concept in Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics by Daniel B. Wallace (1996) which also says of the "Ingresssive (Inchoative, Inceptive) Imperfect":

    "1. Definition - The imperfect is often used to stress the beginning of an action, with the implication that it continued for some time. 2. Clarification and Amplification - The difference between the ingressive imperfect and the ingressive aorist is that the imperfect stresses beginning, but implies that the action continues, while the aorist stresses beginning, but does not imply that action continues." - p. 544.

    John 8:44 tells us of Satan: “that (one) man-killer [or 'manslayer,' Strong’s Concordance; NAS Concordance; Thayer; etc.] was [ἦν] from the beginning.”

    According to the reasoning of some concerning the “eternal” [ἦν] (“was”) “in the beginning” concerning Jesus at Jn 1:1, Satan himself must be “eternal,” and by this specious reasoning must, therefore, be God Himself! Either "was” [ἦν] in this scripture does not mean an eternal existence, or, if it does, then Jesus can certainly be just as “eternal” as Satan himself and still not be God! (Of course, Satan had a beginning and will have an end!)

    Therefore, the appeal to the meanings of "in the beginning" and "was" in John 1:1 as somehow showing that the Word had an eternal existence is totally specious.
     
    #2 tigger2, Aug 23, 2019
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  3. MikeDwight

    MikeDwight Well-Known Member

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    I think we Should read the Gospel in that Gospel's context and not in the generality of the other 3 Gospels. Very soon I think "The Beginning" becomes very clear, as this Gospel introduces that The Word was with Christ at this Beginning. Then we see that Jesus Christ makes an astonishing claim that made the people try to kill him. John 8:58 58"Very truly I tell you," Jesus answered, "before Abraham was born, I am!"
    That would place Jesus atleast 20,000 years old in Real Years.
     
  4. leov

    leov Well-Known Member
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    Is it Jesus or Christ? Jesus was man, Son of Man, Christ is Cosmic Spirit , Son of God.
     
  5. Ellen Brown

    Ellen Brown Well-Known Member
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    It is inadvisable to lean too heavily on the various translations of these old works. Doing so just confuses everyone, and members of various denominations wind up finding themselves painted into a corner over too adamant insistence that their interpretation is the only correct one.
     
  6. Ellen Brown

    Ellen Brown Well-Known Member
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    It is inadvisable to lean too heavily on the various translations of these old works. Doing so just confuses everyone, and members of various denominations wind up finding themselves painted into a corner over too adamant insistence that their interpretation is the only correct one.
     
  7. MikeDwight

    MikeDwight Well-Known Member

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    Persons don't live by nachos alone, but by every Word from the Mouth of Reason. New Revised American Universalist Translation
     
  8. Desert Snake

    Desert Snake ️️️️️️️️️️

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    Way too much argument, if your argument was real, wouldn't require that.:)
     
  9. ideogenous_mover

    ideogenous_mover Well-Known Member

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    I'm not a good linguist, but as part of the indo-european language family it looks like it's clearly related to the latin and english preflix 'ante,' you know like in antecedent, antebellum etc. And we use ante to indicate something that comes before.
     
  10. Deeje

    Deeje Avid Bible Student
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    You do understand that God's name never meant "I AM" in the first place....don't you?

    Exodus 3:14-15 from the Jewish Tanach reads....

    14 "God said to Moses, "Ehyeh asher ehyeh (I will be what I will be)," and He said, "So shall you say to the children of Israel, 'Ehyeh (I will be) has sent me to you.'"
    ידוַיֹּ֤אמֶר אֱלֹהִים֙ אֶל־משֶׁ֔ה אֶֽהְיֶ֖ה אֲשֶׁ֣ר אֶֽהְיֶ֑ה וַיֹּ֗אמֶר כֹּ֤ה תֹאמַר֙ לִבְנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל אֶֽהְיֶ֖ה שְׁלָחַ֥נִי אֲלֵיכֶֽם:


    15 And God said further to Moses, "So shall you say to the children of Israel, 'The Lord God of your forefathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.' This is My name forever, and this is how I should be mentioned in every generation.
    טווַיֹּ֩אמֶר֩ ע֨וֹד אֱלֹהִ֜ים אֶל־משֶׁ֗ה כֹּ֣ה תֹאמַר֘ אֶל־בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵל֒ יְהֹוָ֞ה אֱלֹהֵ֣י אֲבֹֽתֵיכֶ֗ם אֱלֹהֵ֨י אַבְרָהָ֜ם אֱלֹהֵ֥י יִצְחָ֛ק וֵֽאלֹהֵ֥י יַֽעֲקֹ֖ב שְׁלָחַ֣נִי אֲלֵיכֶ֑ם זֶה־שְּׁמִ֣י לְעֹלָ֔ם וְזֶ֥ה זִכְרִ֖י לְדֹ֥ר דֹּֽר"

    Shemot - Exodus - Chapter 3 (Parshah Shemot)

    "The Lord God" is יְהֹוָ֞ה (Yahweh) and his name means "I WILL BE".

    In John 8:56-58 Jesus is answering a question about his age.....

    "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.” 57 So the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?” 58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am. (NASB)

    This is not Jesus claiming to be Yahweh because his name means "I WILL BE" not "I AM". Jesus is simply claiming to have existed before Abraham.


     
    #10 Deeje, Aug 24, 2019
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  11. Oeste

    Oeste Well-Known Member

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    I like the way it shows in the majority of translated texts: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”.


    It goes beyond that. As I explained on another thread the order of Greek words are not meaningless but help show emphatic position in Koine Greek. At John 1:1 we see that “In the beginning” the Word already “was. So the Word did not come to be "in the beginning", but already was in the beginning. The "Word was God” and not “the Word would be God”.

    No one argues that creation is eternal, so of course it came to be at a certain point in time. I don't understand what you mean by "...it never means that thing existed before". What thing? A created thing? Then yes.

    Is this a strawman to knock down later?

    I’m not aware of any Christian on this forum who argues creation is eternal. If creation were eternal then it couldn’t have been created, so of course creation and “beginning” refer to a point in time.

    This makes no sense. Anything existing before time is by definition eternal.

    Why would he do that when he’s using “In the beginning” to draw a parallel with Genesis 1:1? Besides, you've just told us the Logos was eternal by placing him before time.

    In other words @tigger2, there never was a time when the Father was not, and there never was a time when Jesus was not.

    It's all very simple and I'm glad I've finally found a Jehovah Witness who agrees. There never was a time when the Spirit was not either, but we can get to that later.(1 Cor 3:2; Heb 5:12).

    But as much as I would like to jump up and down and celebrate, I know we can't do that without a Watchtower source. Can you cite the Watchtower article or publication that states the Word existed prior to the beginning, or at least before time?

    You can’t possibly be telling us that you take this literally. This would mean God existed without wisdom until the process of creation (the beginning) started. Such an interpretation gives us an unwise or foolish God until the universe came along, which makes no sense.

    That is too funny @tigger2! I can't recall any reliable source of “Trinitarian scholars” and “Christian writers” who imply Wisdom was actually created “at the beginning”!

    We have to be careful when dealing with folk who claim to be Trinitarians. Some Arian web sites will create "Trinitarian scholars" armed with straw man arguments of the web sites making...all so they can knock down fallacious arguments of their own design. I’m not saying there aren’t Trinitarians out there who believe Wisdom was something God had to create for Himself (apparently after being wise enough to realize He didn’t have any :confused:), but be assured they did not come from what anyone would consider the historic traditional church.

    Wisdom is not something God “creates” in verse 8 that ends up living with someone named Prudence in verse 12. Wisdom itself is an eternal intrinsic characteristic of God and Proverbs chapters 1-9 speak of wisdom personified. As far as I know, only heretics have ever endorsed the idea that God created His own wisdom. This does not mean the traditional church doesn't believe scripture, it simply means we interpret the same scriptures differently, which is what I was trying to explain to Hockey Cowboy on another thread.

    Theologically, I would consider the idea God had no Wisdom until He created it to be most unwise. Without wisdom you are foolish, and God was never foolish.

    The Greek word used here is “arche” which has a range of meanings. The meaning here is “first cause”. So Jesus is the first cause of creation, not as a created being, but as the One (first cause) that is responsible for all creation.

    Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.
    (John 1:3)
    Of course, Jesus could never be said to be responsible for all creation if he himself is created, unless he created himself.



    How many times does Jesus get born in Watchtower Christology? First they tell us he’s the firstborn of God (God created him), then they tell us he’s the firstborn of creation (Creation created him), then they tell us that Jesus created the creation from which he was born or created!!! :eek:

    Watchtower theology is extremely convoluted.

    If Jesus is not over creation then he is subject to it. This opens up a whole new can of worms for the Watchtower but let's concentrate on the ones already out of the bottle for now.

    Okay...So after showing us the verse where Christ is the “Firstborn of creation” you now tell us he's the “Firstborn (created) of God”. Does the Watchtower ever settle the issue of who actually creates Christ, or is this still the subject of speculation by the Governing Board?

    Do they understand the difference between "Firstborn" and "first created"? I think its pretty clear by the questions posed here that 'Firstborn' does not mean 'First created' otherwise, by final analysis, we have creation birthing or creating it's creator after Jesus (the creator of the "rest of creation") somehow creates himself after God creates Jesus.

    Whew! It sounds like one giant pretzel. How the average Witness manages to sort all that out in the Kingdom Halls is beyond me.
     
  12. Oeste

    Oeste Well-Known Member

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    Let's continue:


    The "rest of creation?" Where is this coming from? Show us the scriptural reference, PLEASE!

    Let's look at John 1:3 again to find out what the bible really teaches:

    Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. (John 1:3)​

    So it's all things, not a few things, not most things, not 'all other' things, and certainly not the 'rest of things'.

    I would ask a JW what they mean by "only-begotten son" but at this point I'm very afraid to ask. I see the WT opening can after can of what can only be labeled as extremely questionable and convoluted doctrines.

    OH MY GOODNESS! Jesus made the angels then becomes the firstborn of the very same angels he creates and then becomes the firstborn of the rest of creation!

    I don't know where this ends but let's save that one for later too.

    Yes! This "beginning of something" was the beginning of our universe as stated at Genesis 1:1.

    Well, if he's going to create ALL things as John 1:3 states then it's a given he needs to already be there. He can't arrive after the fact.



    How could he make anything "in the beginning" if he wasn't there? You've already reasoned this out Tigger2. Christ WAS before the beginning. He can't possibly have been created "in the beginning" which means he wasn't created at all.



    NOT POSSIBLE.


    Time did not exist before the beginning. If time existed "before the beginning" then the beginning would not have been "in the beginning"...it would have been later!


    How do you not see this?


    Time, like space, is a creation of God. If Jesus was created "in the beginning" then that would mean Jesus is the third born of creation and the third born of God.

    Jesus is created "IN"....

    "IN" requires a place in space. So If Jesus was created "IN" the beginning space is already there waiting for Jesus! How is that possible when, even by WT standards, nothing was created prior to Jesus?

    Next we have "BEGINNING".....

    In order to have a beginning for anything, you need time. Without time there is no "beginning", and without space there is no "in".

    We live in time and space. These are creations of God. So if God created Jesus "in the beginning" Jesus was certainly not His first born! He is His "third born" because time and space are creations that were already there, patiently awaiting God to create Jesus or for Jesus to create himself, because Jesus created "all things" and there is nothing (which includes time and space) that was created which was not created by him (John 1:3).

    The only option is that Jesus is before time and before space, which means Jesus is eternal.

    In short, there's no "in" without a place in space and no " the beginning" without time.

    Well, since Jesus is in fact God, and since it was God that created the universe we can see how Jesus is the master workman through whom all things are created.
     
  13. Ellen Brown

    Ellen Brown Well-Known Member
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    Not convinced about a Triune God. The First Commandment is still in effect.
     
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  14. Oeste

    Oeste Well-Known Member

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    Hello Ellen Brown!

    Totally agree with you regarding the 1st commandment but then Trinitarianism is not Tritheism, Triune is not Triple, and Christians are monotheists like the first century Jews, not polytheists like the Arians.

    I once studied with Witnesses and became somewhat Arian in my beliefs, but after close examination of the scriptures came screaming and kicking back to the Trinity. It's the only Christology I've found that effectively and soundly harmonizes scripture with Jesus' claim of Deity...all without falling into polytheism ("the God" with thousands of "a Gods" of the Watchtower).

    I will admit Ithe Watchtower publication "Should you believe in the Trinity?" depicting the Trinity as a triple headed monster (rather than Triune) was initially effective in my early studies, but as I looked behind their literature I found it blatantly misleading and incorrect. Any "truthful" Organization or publication should be able to cite page numbers, authors, and publication years without the need for misrepresentations, mischaracterization or misquotes.

    In any event the opportunity to share and discuss like and opposing view points makes sites like this informative and invaluable. I just wish I had more time.

    I'm hoping to start a thread to discuss the "3 headed monster" and other anti-Trinitarian logic soon. It'll be fun.
     
  15. sojourner

    sojourner Annoyingly Progressive Since 2006

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    Way too many faux-scholastic gymnastics to be of any real use.
     
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  16. Desert Snake

    Desert Snake ️️️️️️️️️️

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    John 1:1-10'in the beginning'

    Genesis 1


    Read your Bible.

    Should be a clue that divinity did not begin at baptism, also.
     
  17. sojourner

    sojourner Annoyingly Progressive Since 2006

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    There’s the fact that Genesis 1 presents us with a translational problem. “In the beginning” isn’t a transliteration. It’s a compromise. There’s just no good translation for the ancient Hebrew in that particular sentence.
     
  18. Thief

    Thief Rogue Theologian

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    I did not see notation......I AM!

    and they that understand will know Whose Word this is
     
  19. Moz

    Moz Religion. A pox on all their Houses.

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    No one buys that line except the ones who are captive to the "doctrines of the councils". We were created in God's image with the ability to reason... reason demands that three different things can not be one thing. 1+1+1= 1... ?

    At the end of the day trinitarians use the out of "it's a mystery". At the core it can not be explained only stated.

    Btw... Arianism survived for centuries in the Gothic and Vandal kingdoms as the official form of Christianity, they were evangelised BEFORE the apostasy at Nicaea, and remained until militarily compelled by the Nicaean branch.

    Peace
     
  20. Oeste

    Oeste Well-Known Member

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    1+1+1? No one buys that line except the heretics. If you need a formula that keeps fidelity with established Trinitarian doctrine then I strongly recommend a different symbol. If you're intent is to create a formulation that can be mislabeled "Trinitarian" then of course you're free to make up your own.

    Correct. God cannot be explained. In fact someone has a God that can be explained I would posit its not the biblical God.

    All the major heresies were evangelized. That’s how all doctrines spread. The Arians had their turn in the sun, presented their argument and fell short. It’s madness to present these same arguments now and somehow expect a different result.

    The church has a rich doctrinal history. Some doctrines fell on the wayside with no soil, some on rocky ground with little soil, and some on soil which contains thorns. Those doctrines that fail to root or produce good fruit were taken away. Others are planted in fertile soil, allowed to grow and produce abundant fruit. Some ten and others a hundred fold.

    If there was some apostasy that was going to spread, envelope and overwhelm the church Jesus would have told us so. In other words, the doctrines planted in thorny soil would produce occasional fruit, whilst the doctrines sown in fertile soil would grow like crazy, producing nothing but rotten fruit, thorns and weeds by the tens of hundreds over that produced by the plants on rocky soil.

    That is essentially what Arians tell us but it’s certainly not how the parable reads.



    Have a great and safe Labor Day weekend everyone!!!
     
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